Sorbonne University (alliance)

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Sorbonne University
Sorbonne University English logo
Type Public
Established 2010
President Thierry Tuot
Academic staff
7 700
(2 900 tenured professors)
Students 57 800
Undergraduates 23 000
Postgraduates 23 000
Location Paris, France
Campus Urban

Sorbonne University (French: Sorbonne Universités [sɔʁbɔn ynivɛʁsite]) is an alliance of 11 university institutions founded by Panthéon-Assas University (now an associate member), Paris-Sorbonne University and Pierre-and-Marie-Curie University in June 2010.[1][2] Other members include the INSEAD, the University of Technology of Compiègne, the National Museum of Natural History, and research centers such as the French National Centre for Scientific Research, the French Institute of Health and Medical Research, the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation, and the French Institute of Research for the Development.

The alliance comprises nearly 60 000 students annually, of which 5 000 are Ph.D. students.

Members of the alliance have set up many projects altogether to strengthen the relations between them and create new academic courses and research programs in the fields of science, medicine, human and social science, engineering, business management, and arts.

Alumni and faculty include 12 Nobel laureates[3] and 7 Field Medalists.[4]

The alliance has been granted €130 million from the French government.[5] It's budget was €680 million as of 2012.


With Panthéon-Assas University (Paris 2) for the law, Paris-Sorbonne University (Paris 4) for humanities and Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 6) for sciences, Sorbonne-University regroups three direct successor institutions of the University of Paris, also known simply as the Sorbonne, the medieval university of Paris that was divided into 13 autonomous universities after the French riots in 1968. Three of these universities took over the Sorbonne's faculty of law, humanities and science, whereas the other universities were interdisciplinary or to focus on other topics.

In the early 2000s, to perform on the international scale, these thirteen universities started to join their forces into University alliances along with public research and higher education institutions and grandes écoles. In 2006, a French law organizing research compelled every university institution to join a university alliance. This was aimed at forming big university and research clusters able to compete with the best international universities.

In 2010, Sorbonne University formed its first alliance. Since then, other university institutions have entered, such as the National Museum of Natural History. Panthéon-Assas University left the alliance in 2013 because it was not happy of the governance of the alliance and became an associate member in 2014. In 2015, Sorbonne University grouped 11 founding members, and 11 other associate members.


Founding members[edit]

As of January 1, 2015

Associate members[edit]

As of January 1, 2015


Members have worked on several projects in order to strengthen the relations between them and potentially create a new international institution. The most famous projects are the "Sorbonne College" (Collège de la Sorbonne) for bachelor's degree teaching and the "Sorbonne Doctoral College" (Collège doctoral de la Sorbonne) for PhD candidates.

The Sorbonne College[edit]

Since 2014, the Sorbonne College for bachelor's degree (« Collège des Licences de la Sorbonne ») has been coordinating the academic projects of the members of the alliance. It also offers cross-institutional academic courses in many fields, allowing students to graduate from both institutions. For example, some cross-institutional bachelor's degrees (« double licences ») are proposed to students between Paris-Sorbonne University and Pierre-et-Marie-Curie University, in :

  • Science and History
  • Science and Musicology
  • Science and Philosophy
  • Science and Chinese
  • Science and German

As it is the case in the Anglo-Saxon university system, Sorbonne University proposes a major-minor system, that is currently being deployed at the Pierre and Marie Curie University.[6]

Sorbonne University, in partnership with INSEAD, also offers all of its alumni and PhD students a professionalizing course in business management to complete their curriculum.

The Doctoral College[edit]

Sorbonne University's graduation ceremony, May 2011

Since 2010, every PhD student is being delivered an honorary diploma labeled Sorbonne University. This diploma highlights and gathers the skills of the doctors and researchers from the institutions that form Sorbonne University.

The Sorbonne Doctoral College, created in 2013, coordinates the activities of the 26 doctoral schools. Since 2014, it has developed cross-disciplinary PhDs between the different members of the alliance :

Sorbonne University's doctoral schools
Fields Doctoral school Institution
Énergie, matière, univers Chimie physique & chimie analytique de Paris centre Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 6)
Physique et chimie des matériaux Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 6)
Chimie moléculaire de Paris centre Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 6)
Astronomie et astrophysique Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 6)
Sciences de la Terre et physique de l'univers Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 6)
Physique en Ile-de-France Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 6)
Modélisation et ingénierie Informatique, télécommunications & électronique Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 6)
Sciences mathématiques de Paris centre Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 6)
Sciences mécaniques, acoustique, électronique et robotique Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 6)
Sciences pour l'ingénieur University of Technology of Compiègne
Terre vivante et environnement Sciences de l’environnement Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 6)
Géosciences, ressources naturelles et environnement Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 6)
Sciences de la Nature et de l'Homme : évolution et écologie National Museum of Natural History
Vie et santé Cerveau, cognition, comportement Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 6)
Santé publique & sciences de l’information biomédicale Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 6)
Physiologie, physiopathologie et thérapeutique Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 6)
Complexité du vivant Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 6)
Histoire-Géographie École doctorale de géographie de Paris Paris-Sorbonne University (Paris 4)
Histoire de l’art et archéologie Paris-Sorbonne Paris-Sorbonne University (Paris 4)
Histoire moderne et contemporaine Paris-Sorbonne University (Paris 4)
Mondes anciens et médiévaux Paris-Sorbonne University (Paris 4)
Langues, lettres et civilisations Littératures françaises et comparée Paris-Sorbonne University (Paris 4)
Civilisations, cultures et sociétés Paris-Sorbonne University (Paris 4)
Concepts et Language Paris-Sorbonne University (Paris 4)
Management INSEAD PhD program in management INSEAD

Since 2011, Sorbonne University celebrate its graduates in a formal ceremony where every PhD graduate wears a scholar uniform.[7]


To strengthen the influence of its research infrastructures on the international scale, Sorbonne University has developed several research programs aiming at reinforcing or exploring new fields of study. This innovative cross-disciplinary approach was embodied with the creation of four new academic positions gathering several establishments of the alliance:[8]

  • A Department of Digital Humanities, exploring the use of digital technologies in the social science
  • A Department of Polychromatic Studies of Societies, associating architecture, anthropology, chemical physics, literature and art history
  • A Department of Digital Health, exploring biomedical tools
  • A Department of 3D Craniofacial Reconstruction

Sorbonne University has also formed with academic institutions such as the China Scholarship Council or the Brazilian foundation FAPERJ several partnerships enabling bilateral research programs.

International establishment[edit]

Thanks to its members, Sorbonne University can benefit from a wide range of international partnerships, both in Europe and worldwide. These partnerships allow academic mobility for students and a broader scientific cooperation for researchers. For example, Sorbonne University is established in Singapore, where INSEAD holds a campus and has relocated its academic board in 2013,[9] and in Abu Dhabi, where both INSEAD and Paris-Sorbonne University have created a campus.

Sorbonne University has also formed its own academic partnerships: in Canada,[10] Brazil,[11] Mexico, with the UNAM,[12] in China with the Harbin Institute of Technology,[13] and in Singapore, with the Nanyang Technological University and the Yale-NUS College.[14]

Academic results[edit]

University rankings
ARWU[15] 35 (PMCU)
Times[16] 103 (PMCU)

Some of Sorbonne University’ members have recently won fame in the global and national university rankings.

Global university rankings[edit]

The Academic Ranking of World Universities for 2014-2015 ranks PMCU 35th in the world, 1st French university, and 6th university in Europe. In the same edition of the ranking, PMCU is the 4th university for mathematics.[17]

In 2014, Pierre-and-Marie-Curie University was ranked 103rd in the world, 3rd in France and 29th in the world for physics in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings,[18] while Paris-Sorbonne University is ranked 56th in the world for reputation, 2nd in France.[19]

QS World University Rankings 2015 (world's top 800 universities) ranks Paris-Sorbonne University 1st in France, 36th in the world for arts and humanities (9th for modern languages, 30th for philosophy).

As of 2016, The Financial Times has ranked INSEAD 1st in the world in its Global MBA Rankings.[20]

National university ranking[edit]

The three main universities of this alliance are considered as the first or one of the first universities in their field.

Student life[edit]


Main article: Jussieu Campus
Location of Sorbonne University's establishments - Paris area excluded

The main campus of Sorbonne University is the historic central Sorbonne building in the Latin quarter, that Paris-Sorbonne University (Paris 4) shares with other universities not included in Sorbonne University. Sorbonne University is also located in the Jussieu Campus, near the Latin quarter. The Campus is occupied by Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 6). After a long period of restoration, the first half of the new campus was inaugurated in September 2014 with new academic buildings, new dormitories, and a gymnasium.

Sorbonne University is also located in other numerous places in Paris, Paris suburb and France:[21]

Sorbonne University is also established in Asia, with one campus in Singapore, residence of the INSEAD and two campuses in Abu Dhabi, both for the INSEAD and the Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi.

Student life[edit]

A COSU performance in Paris, March 2014

Since 2010, Sorbonne University has set the goal of optimizing the students’ life conditions and pooling the associative activities of all the students.


Sorbonne University offers financial support to associations or student initiatives that help gathering the students of each institution that composes the alliance. Among the associations that are currently supported, are there :

  • The association Doc’Up, founded in 2006, a students’ union that unites PhD students of every members of the alliance. The associations aims at defending PhD students’ rights within the academic representative assemblies and helping them add value to their curriculum.[23] Since 2007, the association has been organizing a scientific popularization short-film festival called « Les chercheurs font leur cinéma » (« Researchers are play-acting »).[24]
  • Since 2014, the music festival Imaginarium, founded by students of the UTC[25]

Sorbonne University also supports students' welcoming initiatives at the beginning of the autumn term, such as :

  • Les Sorbonnales, a cross-institutional student ball that gathers every student of Sorbonne University. The sixth edition of the ball has taken place in 2014[26]
  • Since 2012, a welcome week has been organized at the Pierre and Marie Curie University[27]


The Jean-Talbot gymnasium

Since 2012, Sorbonne University has been organizing an eloquence contest called « Fleurs d’Éloquence », during the which every Sorbonne University’s students can compete. 150 students have participated during the 2015 edition.[28]

Sorbonne University has its own musical ensemble, called Chœur-Orchestre Sorbonne-Universités (Sorbonne University Choir & Orchestra). The COSU gathers 250 students, instrumentalists and vocalists, who perform throughout the school year in concert halls, such as Sorbonne’s Grand Amphitheater or in Europe.[29]


Each member of Sorbonne University provides its own range of sport activities. Nevertheless, the members of Sorbonne University have recently begun to put in common their sport facilities, following the recent renovation of the Jussieu Campus : the new Jean-Talbot gymnasium was indeed opened in the fall of 2014, and is since then the venue for indoor sports.[30]

Sorbonne University team at the 2014 Challenge du Monde des Grandes écoles et universités

Sorbonne University also takes part in student sport competitions where it competes with other establishments. In 2014, Sorbonne University won the 3rd place in the fr:Challenge du Monde des grandes écoles et universités, a competition jointly organized by the French Athletics Federation and the fr:Journal des Grandes Écoles et Universités, a French magazine for students.[31]

Notable teachers and alumni[edit]

Main article: List of INSEAD alumni

Faculty Nobel Prizes

Serge Haroche[32] Physics 2012
Françoise Barré-Sinoussi[33] Physiology or Medicine 2008
Claude Cohen-Tannoudji[34] Physics 1997
Pierre-Gilles de Gennes[35] Physics 1991
Maurice Allais[36] Economic Sciences 1988
Alfred Kastler[37] Physics 1966
François Jacob[38] Physiology or Medicine 1965
André Lwoff[39] Physiology or Medicine 1965
Jacques Monod[40] Physiology or Medicine 1965
Frédéric Joliot[41] Chemistry 1935
Irène Joliot-Curie[42] Chemistry 1935
Louis de Broglie[43] Physics 1929
Jean-Baptiste Perrin[44] Physics 1926
Charles Richet[45] Physiology or Medicine 1913
Marie Curie[46] Chemistry 1911
Gabriel Lippmann[47] Physics 1908
Henri Moissan[48] Chemistry 1906
Henri Becquerel[49] Physics 1903
Marie Curie[50] Physics 1903

Twelve Nobel laureates[51] have been faculty members, researchers, or alumni, along with 7 Field Medalists:[52]

Sorbonne University welcomes many notable teachers, some of which having themselves graduated from the members of the alliance :

Some of Sorbonne University’ alumni have achieved prominence in many fields, such as politics, sports, or economics :

  • Claude Bartolone, president of the French Assemblée Nationale (PMCU)
  • Ulrich Robeiri, French épée fencer, World Champion in 2014, team Olympic Champion in 2008[56] (PMCU)
  • Marie Gayot, French sprint athlete, 2014 European Athletics Championship 4 × 400 m relay gold medalist[57] (UTC)
  • Robert S. Keane, CEO, Vistaprint (INSEAD)
  • Johann Schneider-Ammann, Swiss minister of Economy (INSEAD)
  • Andrew Noble, 2010 Winter Olympics Alpine Skiing competitor (INSEAD)
  • Bernard de la Villardière, French journalist radio and TV presenter[58] (CELSA – PSU)
  • Frédéric Beigbeder, French writer and literary critic[59] (CELSA – PSU)


  1. ^ "Universités : Paris 2, 4 et 6 s'unissent". Le Figaro (in French). 2 October 2009. 
  2. ^ "Paris 2, 4 et 6 changent de nom". Le Figaro (in French). 25 February 2010. 
  3. ^ List of PMCU's Nobel Prize laureates
  4. ^ List of PMCU's Field Medalists
  5. ^ Jay, Clarisse (6 April 2011). "Opération campus : Pécresse distribue les enveloppes à Paris". La Tribune (in French). 
  6. ^ (French) « La Sorbonne université d’élite et de masse: entretien avec Barthélémy Jobert, président de l’université Paris Sorbonne », Le
  7. ^ (French) « Sorbonne Universités célèbre ses docteurs... à l'américaine »,, 17 mai 2011
  8. ^ (French) Presentation of Sorbonne University's new academic positions]
  9. ^ (French)« La direction de l’Insead quitte la France pour Singapour »
  10. ^ (French)Bourse de recherche Mitacs Globalink - Sorbonne Universités (2e et 3e cycles)
  11. ^ (French)Présentation du partenariat avec le Brésil sur le site de Sorbonne Universités
  12. ^ (French)« Partenariat entre Sorbonne Universités et la plus grande université du Mexique »
  13. ^ (French)« 11 accords signés à Pékin pour l'enseignement supérieur et la recherche »
  14. ^ (French)Presentation of the partnership with Singapore, Sorbonne University's website
  15. ^ "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2016". Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. 2016. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  16. ^ "World University Rankings 2016-17". THE Education Ltd. Retrieved September 21, 2016. 
  17. ^ (French)« Classement de Shanghaï : les universités françaises maintiennent leur rang »,
  18. ^ World University Rankings 2014-2015
  19. ^ World University Rankings 2014-2015
  20. ^ [1]
  21. ^ (French) List of Sorbonne University's establishments
  22. ^ (French) Inauguration du campus de Bondy, site de l'académie de Créteil
  23. ^ (French) Les actions de Doc'Up
  24. ^ (French) « Les chercheurs font leur cinéma, ou les doctorants derrière la caméra »
  25. ^ (French)« L’Imaginarium Festival remballe satisfait »
  26. ^ (French) The Sorbonnales' website
  27. ^ (French) « Rentrée étudiante : les pratiques innovantes des universités et grandes écoles »
  28. ^ (French) « Les concours d’éloquence, un phénomène persuasif »,
  29. ^ (French) COSU's website
  30. ^ (French)[2]
  31. ^ (French) 2014 Challenge du Monde des Grandes écoles et universités prize list
  32. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physics 2012". Nobel Foundation. 
  33. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2008". Nobel Foundation. 
  34. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1997". Nobel Foundation. 
  35. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1991". Nobel Foundation. 
  36. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences 1988". Nobel Foundation. 
  37. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1966". Nobel Foundation. 
  38. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1965". Nobel Foundation. 
  39. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1965". Nobel Foundation. 
  40. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1965". Nobel Foundation. 
  41. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1935". Nobel Foundation. 
  42. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1935". Nobel Foundation. 
  43. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1929". Nobel Foundation. 
  44. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1926". Nobel Foundation. 
  45. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1913". Nobel Foundation. 
  46. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1911". Nobel Foundation. 
  47. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1908". Nobel Foundation. 
  48. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1906". Nobel Foundation. 
  49. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1903". Nobel Foundation. 
  50. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1903". Nobel Foundation. 
  51. ^ List of PMCU's Nobel laureates
  52. ^ List of PMCU's Nobel Laureates
  53. ^ (French)« Alain Fuchs, un pédagogue à la tête du CNRS »,
  54. ^ (French)« Le philosophe Jean-Luc Marion élu à l'Académie française »,
  55. ^ (French)« L'Abeille et l'économiste, de Yann Moulier Boutang »,
  56. ^ "Ulrich Robeiri, French épée fencer and graduate of UPMC"
  57. ^ (French)"Marie Gayot, à Compiègne et Miami en attendant Rio",
  58. ^ (French)"Bernard de la Villardière: anatomie d'un ovni",
  59. ^ (French)"Le prix Renaudot attribué à Frédéric Beigbeder",

External links[edit]